Whilst hunkered down in my warm and embracing recliner over the weekend, I enjoyed some Interesting, and thought-provoking reading as winter storms howled outside.

Two surveys were released in recent days that gave me some food for thought.

The first survey was carried out by CNN/ORC International, and looked at the approval rating for Pope Francis as he wraps up nine months heading up the Catholic Church with its 1.2 billion members world wide.

The second survey was facilitated by Associated Press-GFK and looked at public approval ratings for members of the United States Congress.

The results were ... interesting ... if not revealing.

The approval rating for Pope Francis is astonishingly high.

The approval rating for Congress and the U.S. government is shockingly low.

Pope Francis was given very high grades by 88 percent of American Catholics, but the sky-high approval doesn’t end with a survey of the Pope’s flock. Of all Americans surveyed — Catholic and non-Catholic alike — three out of four viewed the church leader positively.

Then ... we have Congress.

The AP-GFK survey showed the approval rating for America’s legislative leadership had plummeted to 5 percent.

Yes. Five percent. Lower even than the most recent Gallup poll which was at an all-time approval rating low of 11 percent.

And that, boys and girls, means BOTH sides of the aisle — Democrats and Republicans alike.

People aren’t happy with the Republicans who are perceived to be do-nothing stonewallers, and at the same time, folks are pretty dang disillusioned with the Obama administration and the Democrats.

Individual political leaders are not showing well either. Some 48 percent see Republican House Speaker John Boehner in a negative light, while 45 percent say Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is doing an abysmal job.

The minority leadership fares just as poorly - even worse.

And the President??? As they say out east, “Fergidaboudit.”

But the Pope???

Eighty-eight percent approval.

American politicians would like to buy those numbers!

So what’s the difference?Why are the Pope’s numbers so high, while Congress’s numbers are in the gutter?

Well, maybe because the Pope is talking TO the people, while Congress is steadfastly ignoring the people.

Maybe because the Pope is addressing issues from a stance of compassion and caring, while the political leadership of this country is simple creating more and more hardship for the folks “out there.”

Maybe because the Pope is embracing the poor, the disenfranchised, and the downtrodden, while Congress is actually creating more poor, disenfranchised and downtrodden.

Maybe because the Pope has embraced a more modest lifestyle - simpler clothing, simpler home, and simpler lifestyle that any of his predecessors, while Congress just seems to be more and more molly-coddling to the hyper-rich Koch brothers and others of their ilk.

Maybe because the Pope has come out publicly and said, “Who am I to judge?” while members of Congress align themselves with the most judgmental, vicious, and hateful ‘moral leaders’ of our time.

According to the survey, just over 85 percent of those questioned believe the Pope is neither too liberal, nor too conservative. Eighty-six percent say he “... is in touch with the modern world.”

American political leaders remain disattached from the life-realities of the people they supposedly serve, and as a result try to create better ‘press’ through astonishing partisan squabbling resulting in “... the highest unfavorable ratings ever received in polling.”

And again, we are talking about BOTH parties.

The Pope was named Time magazines Person of the Year.

At the same time, the present Congress was declared the most ineffectual legislature ever to serve this nation, and the most unproductive since the 1940s.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I offer Exhibit A as noted in the Washington Post:

“House Republicans have now voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act 33 times. Every time they take this vote, it’s time they could be spending on other issues. Other issues like, for instance, what they would do instead of the Affordable Care Act.

“But though they’ve found the time to vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act on 33 separate occasions, they have voted to replace the Affordable Care Act exactly ... never.”

Look, the Pope didn’t get to where he is today by suggesting dramatic changes in doctrine. All he is doing is saying people need to care more for each other and demonstrate a little more compassion - and he is doing so himself!

That makes some people nervous.

One thing is for sure, Pope Francis is far more in touch with the realities of life and the needs of the people than are members of Congress or even the president whose message of hope and change has been sadly left by the wayside.

The Pope will continue to surprise Catholics and non-Catholics with his earthy, less-than-traditional public offerings.

Sadly, Congress and this president will likely continue not to surprise anyone. The truth is that most Americans simply don’t expect much of anything from their public servants anymore.